Constitutional crisis

  • Follow Editorials

If Americans understand and appreciate their Constitution, they'll be utterly horrified at remarks by Barack Obama in a 2001 Chicago radio interview released this week.

That's a big "if" of course. We have evolved into a society that elevates convenience and expedience above nearly anything else -- including, perhaps, constitutional principles and freedom itself. And the Constitution doesn't seem to be a high priority in public education or public life anymore; it's not all together certain how well we understand our founding document in 2008. We shall see on Nov. 4.

In the startling radio interview, Obama, then a state senator in Illinois, laments that the Supreme Court of the 1960s "didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it has been interpreted."

"The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of basic issues of political and economic justice in this society," Obama says.

Noting that the Constitution makes clear what the government can't do, Obama goes on to bemoan that "it doesn't say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf."

Interesting. Barack Obama, who has cultivated comparisons to John F. Kennedy, absolutely turns Kennedy's famous inaugural exhortation on its head: Obama is, in unambiguous terms, imploring us to explore what the country can do for us.

But more importantly, these and other comments in the interview lay bare Barack Obama's view of this country and its government more completely than anything that has yet been seen or heard.

He believes the Constitution is "constraining" us from doing certain things, most prominently "redistributing" wealth.

On that fact, we agree. The Constitution does do that. We simply disagree on whether that's a good thing. Mr. Obama clearly believes not -- that the government should be used to etch out its bureaucratic version of "political and economic justice."

What, by the way, is "economic justice," if not allowing people to earn and keep whatever income their abilities, interests and efforts provide?

One wonders what Mr. Obama will really mean if he is asked to put his hand on a Bible and to pledge to uphold the Constitution.

We sometimes hear the term "constitutional crisis" bandied about. It hardly ever is one.

But this is.

The presidential frontrunner either ascribes to constitutional nullification -- the belief that the Constitution should just be ignored out of expediency -- or he is a devout follower of the equally troubling idea that the Constitution is a "living" document that means what contemporary society says it means. But if that's true -- that we can give it our own meaning at any time -- that, by design, renders the document bereft of its own meaning.

Joe the plumber scratched at the surface with his fingernails and exposed Barack Obama's political graveyard. Now, it has been unearthed for all to see.

The real question anymore isn't what political stuff he is made of. Or what he thinks of the Constitution and the role of government in our lives.

The question is whether Americans care.

Comments (96) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
chrisbnp
0
Points
chrisbnp 10/28/08 - 01:08 am
0
0
Had I based my opinion of

Had I based my opinion of what he said solely on the snippet of what was a 45 minute panel discussion I might have come to the same conclusion as you have here but I took the time to listen to the entire broadcast in order to understand the context.

Listened to in it's entirety the listener understands the discussion was regarding the historical role of the courts in the civil rights. The "redistribution" discussion was not about redistribution of wealth but rather redistribution of public resources to ensure equality in the school system.

What you did not hear from this snippet was that his position was addressing the best way to approach the problem. Further more he was saying that the courts were not the proper vehicle to achieve that end.

Curiously enough, at one point in the panel discussion they used Bush v. Gore as an example of how the Supreme Court overstepped it's juristiction by ruling on what was essentially a state law. A rather conservative position.

It's a shame that journalism is no longer practiced in the media. In todays world the media (both sides) find it acceptable to give opinion without fully understanding the issue.

mcmiljr
0
Points
mcmiljr 10/28/08 - 01:10 am
0
0
In fact, the Constitution, as

In fact, the Constitution, as currently interpreted, does not prevent legislative majorities from passing wealth redistribution programs. The Court had, in the early twentieth century, struck down economic fairness laws, like minimum wage and maximum hour laws, on the basis of a "liberty to contract" idea based in the due process clause. However, starting in 1937 and continuing to this day the Court takes a hands-off approach to economic legislation. It's been about 70 years since a law was struck down because it violated free-market principles. What Obama was saying was that the Constitution doesn't give JUDGES the power to affirmatively remedy maldistribution of wealth. This stems from the view of the document as imposing limits on governmental power, as opposed to stating affirmative duties. But that's "inside baseball." In sum, the Constitution does not endorse laissez-faire. In fact, read properly, the due process clause basically says government can kill you, take all your stuff, and lock you up forever so long as they do it properly.

MargaretTrawick
0
Points
MargaretTrawick 10/28/08 - 03:05 am
0
0
George W. Bush has

George W. Bush has systematically violated the U.S. Constitution during his presidency. Barack Obama expressed his concerns about the lack of constitutional rights for U.S. citizenry seven years ago. Obama has grown and his views have become more moderate in the last seven years. But, although I am voting for the mature and more moderate Obama, I don't think he was in any way wrong to express the views he had seven years ago. He wanted all citizens, rich and poor, to have the same rights to life as all others. The poor are denied the right to life when they live in conditions in which their life is threatened by, for one, the absence of adequate health care, or the absence of sound oninfrastructure, such as strong levees to prevent the destruction of life by hurricanes. Money buys many things that are in principle protected by the constitution, including, in too many instances, life itself. This is not right. The constitution should provide more protections for the U.S. citizenry, not less. Acknowledgment of this fact is what enables legislators to add amendments to the constitution. What about an amendment providing protection against destitution?

MargaretTrawick
0
Points
MargaretTrawick 10/28/08 - 03:05 am
0
0
George W. Bush has

George W. Bush has systematically violated the U.S. Constitution during his presidency. Barack Obama expressed his concerns about the lack of constitutional rights for U.S. citizenry seven years ago. Obama has grown and his views have become more moderate in the last seven years. But, although I am voting for the mature and more moderate Obama, I don't think he was in any way wrong to express the views he had seven years ago. He wanted all citizens, rich and poor, to have the same rights to life as all others. The poor are denied the right to life when they live in conditions in which their life is threatened by, for one, the absence of adequate health care, or the absence of sound infrastructure, such as strong levees to prevent the destruction of life by hurricanes. Money buys many things that are in principle protected by the constitution, including, in too many instances, life itself. This is not right. The constitution should provide more protections for the U.S. citizenry, not less. Acknowledgment of this fact is what enables legislators to add amendments to the constitution. What about an amendment providing protection against destitution?

PTHS2
0
Points
PTHS2 10/28/08 - 03:58 am
0
0
Margaret - Please give an

Margaret - Please give an example to support the opening accusation in your comment. The rest of your nonsense is just mantra-mouthing. Are you a disciple of JRHC?

_SisterAbdullahX_
3
Points
_SisterAbdullahX_ 10/28/08 - 04:53 am
0
0
"George W. Bush has

"George W. Bush has systematically violated the U.S. Constitution during his presidency." I'll be willing to bet I can wait all day long and NEVER see MargaretTrawick offer any examples of this statement with some evidence to back it up. Just like JRHC....if you say it enough times with enough forcefulness, then it MUST be true.

TechLover
15
Points
TechLover 10/28/08 - 05:35 am
0
0
4th Amend.The right of the

4th Amend.The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.-warrantless wiretaps and searches,8th Amend.Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.-waterboarding and other torture,6th Amend.In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.-secret prisons, held without charges for eternity.Just a few examples.

randon
1
Points
randon 10/28/08 - 05:42 am
0
0
Sister X - I'd say TechLover

Sister X - I'd say TechLover called your bluff!

PTHS2
0
Points
PTHS2 10/28/08 - 05:46 am
0
0
and I'd say TechLover is

and I'd say TechLover is drinking the Kool-Aid as evidenced by his personal, not the supreme court's, interpretation. I could rebuke every one - but they are just too silly to bother with. None of that 8th Ammendment stuff applies to non-citizen combatants, captured and incarcerated outside the US. On the 4th - there should be no reasonable expectation of privacy when using a phone for an international call. That has been ruled not to be an "unreasonable" search.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
Points
JohnRandolphHardisonCain 10/28/08 - 05:47 am
0
0
George Walker Bush & Richard

George Walker Bush & Richard Bruce Cheney have broken the Constitution - including assuming unconstitutional powers via their never-tested-in-the-courts Theory of the Unitary Executive. This theory claims the Commander-in-Chief has wartime powers (during declared or undeclared wars) that supersede Congress & the courts including the Supreme Court. That, my friends, is clearly unconstitutional. I also state without equivocation that George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney are WAR CRIMINALS. They intentionally lied to Congress using known false intelligence (because they actively ginned up false claims about WMD and bogus connections to international terrorism by Saddam Hussein) and misled Congress and the American people into an unnecessary, unjust, immoral, illegal, and unwinnable war in Iraq. These are high crimes and impeachable offenses. Bush and Cheney are war criminals subject to prosecution under U.S. & international laws. I have written for months now that I fully expect President Barack Obama to pardon George Walker Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney "in order to move United States beyond this difficult period and to heal the nation's wounds."

justus4
101
Points
justus4 10/28/08 - 05:49 am
0
0
The Senator believes that the
Unpublished

The Senator believes that the Constitution is a great document, however, it does have some flaws in the interest of justice. Here is why: When the State does harm to a particular group of society, the State also have a duty to "make the whole" after said atrocities are revealed as inhumane. History has many examples. In short, people of color has suffered 'economic injustices" and the State has never addressed that single issue with legislation. (OR even a formal apology) The Senator correctly observed that the Civil Rights Movement addressed Social legislation, NOT Economical injustices, which possibly is more important. And his view of the Warren Court was also accurate, because it could have set the tone for "bold" economical advances for past legal injustices. Americans are blessed with the legal ability to petition their government for grievances and basic humane treatment through the courts. And to some intellectuals, the Courts has failed to correctly address the issue. It's not a crisis, only an intrepretation.

karmakills123
8
Points
karmakills123 10/28/08 - 05:51 am
0
0
justus when you cut and paste

justus when you cut and paste it is polite to name the author or at least note you have copied other peoples words..you taking lessons from cain?

PTHS2
0
Points
PTHS2 10/28/08 - 05:52 am
0
0
JRHC - You do not

JRHC - You do not dissapoint!!! LOL Never a dull moment reading one of "your opinions".

randon
1
Points
randon 10/28/08 - 06:03 am
0
0
PTHS - The Supreme Court has

PTHS - The Supreme Court has already ruled on Bush's violation of the 8th amendment; and I really can't see that it's any of Bush's business whether I call a someone in Nebraska or someone in Spain. Both Bush and Cheney should be in prison, right along with Ted Stevens.

TechLover
15
Points
TechLover 10/28/08 - 06:06 am
0
0
PTHS: Again I ask you right

PTHS: Again I ask you right wingers to stop with the O'Reilly "kool-aid" comments. I'm sure the families of the Jonestown victims don't find it funny.If the person is a US citizen, as some are, then they are intitled to all rights of the Constitution. If you keep up with the news, the government has not only listened to international calls but domestic as well.. Watch what you check out of the library, whatch what you type in your Google searches. If you don't think they aren't having warantless searches, then you're in la-la land.

PTHS2
0
Points
PTHS2 10/28/08 - 06:07 am
0
0
randon - You are certainly

randon - You are certainly entitled to your opinion. I fought to preserve that right for everybody. You are welcome.

PTHS2
0
Points
PTHS2 10/28/08 - 06:21 am
0
0
TechLove - The key is

TechLove - The key is "reasonable expectation of privacy". It's akin to having homosexual sex (a sodomy crime in many states). If you do it inside with the curtains closed - okay, maybe there is a defense. If you choose to do it outside in your front yard - you have forfeited that right to privacy. When you use a wireless phone (cordless,cell.satty) or the internet, you have also crosed the "unreasonable search/reasonable expectation of privacy" line in the sand. Just something to think about. The very specific rules were implemented by an Exectutive Order in 1973 following Watergate. Research it if you want the truth. Every president since then (including Carter and Clinton) has reaffirmed that EO.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 10/28/08 - 06:43 am
0
0
"In general, the art of

"In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one class of people and giving it to another" Voltaire ...... A democracy can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority votes for the candidate promising them the most....... Obama said his litmus test for a supreme court justice was if he/she knew how to interpret the law to fit today's society. Which informed voter would even consider Obama?

TechLover
15
Points
TechLover 10/28/08 - 06:47 am
0
0
If you have heterosexual sex

If you have heterosexual sex in the front yard you'd probably be arrested as well. Man, you had a cordless phone, cell, and internet in 1973? I think I still had a rotary dial phone.

TechLover
15
Points
TechLover 10/28/08 - 06:54 am
0
0
we've had the wealthy doing

we've had the wealthy doing exactly that, voting for the candidate that promised them the most and the tax policy has been changed to shift the tax burden from them to the middle class. Along with them they had people who voted against their best interest due to various reasons such as fear mongering on security, gay ballot initiatives, Willie Horton ads,etc, to appeal to the uninformed voter who then voted for the Republicans.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 10/28/08 - 06:56 am
0
0
Brilliant TechLover, if a law

Brilliant TechLover, if a law was passed yesterday, it's not pertinent today?

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 10/28/08 - 06:58 am
0
0
starve the children, throw

starve the children, throw the old into the street, end social security, endless fear mongering by the Dems...every election cycle. Many are tricked into voting for socialism.

shivas
2
Points
shivas 10/28/08 - 07:00 am
0
0
Nice to see the AC editors

Nice to see the AC editors attended the final week of the campaign Hannity and Rush meeting. This is the October surprise??? A real constitutional crisis is when this govt. supports torture, and violating our rights of privacy as W. has implemented.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 10/28/08 - 07:03 am
0
0
yeah shivas, the government

yeah shivas, the government is violating your right to privacy and torturing you.

karmakills123
8
Points
karmakills123 10/28/08 - 07:05 am
0
0
~ : o )

~ : o )

PTHS2
0
Points
PTHS2 10/28/08 - 07:09 am
0
0
I'm still waiting for a case

I'm still waiting for a case to come forward of any innocent US Citizen being wrongfully and/or tangibly harmed by the so-called "expanded wire-tapping". Folks may laugh at your long distance phone sex attempts, but it goes no farther.

TechLover
15
Points
TechLover 10/28/08 - 07:22 am
0
0
I find it difficult to

I find it difficult to believe that in 1973 they passed internet law. Regardless, the government can search anything CONSTITUTIONALLY with a warrant.

brimisjoshan
2
Points
brimisjoshan 10/28/08 - 07:30 am
0
0
Obama may win but he will

Obama may win but he will loose big time. Obama certainly will introduce America to the socialism and European style governments that will destroy our constitution. But be not discouraged no matter who wins conservative base will be revitalized and strengthened in the coming years.

Riverman1
83765
Points
Riverman1 10/28/08 - 07:33 am
0
0
This could be one of the few

This could be one of the few times, people have actually voted themselves a socialist government that takes from those who have to give to those who don't. Anyone who works or has a little saved should be very afraid of Obama/Reid/Pelosi. Actually, American families making over 50 thousand a year favor McCain 3 to 1. If Obama wins it will be because of a coalition of the have-nots living on the government dole voting for him.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs